by Edgar Hayes – A wonderful start to the conversation of race in America–the day, music, panelists, food, attendees were all wonderful at Francis Day. Yet, it only scratched the surface. Its seedling is just bursting forth from the earth. One day, it will produce Godly abundance. For me, to keep the conversation within the realm of religious is key to its dismantling. It will never be reached pragmatically, metaphysically, existentially, and definitely not politically.
by Ruth Bass Green – The experience on October 6, at Agape will stay in my heart and mind forevermore.
I was challenged in more ways than I’d hoped
Never did I think I’d be enhanced by the sage smoke
Nor the panelist and the topics they shared
Which was no joke
by Tahirah Amatul-Wadud – As our country experiences such difficulty and we as a people are hurt by betrayal at its core, the single most important thing to me is to build and nurture ourselves and our community every way and every day that we can. It was cathartic to safely engage in an uncomfortable (at times) but intellectually stimulating (always) discussion on systemic racism at Agape. It’s good to be having this conversation.
by Maritza Cruz – Race still matters. In 2018, there are persistent social, political, and environmental inequities, and racism is only one component of the complex system of oppression. Rules and standards in our society are not race neutral.
As children of color, we learn from a very young age that racism exists. We are seen as subhuman. Immigration has been racialized; it’s about people of color being seen as “less than.” When it is black and brown or indigenous people, immigration is not okay. We indigenous people have been here and have been crossing borders for thousands of years, but we are ignored.
by Alex Mooradian – To me, what stood out at St. Francis Day was the sense of caring among the attendees. Everyone who spoke at the event, and who participated in the day as guests, shared the same desire to become more educated and involved. Not everyone shared the same life histories, backgrounds, beliefs, or baseline of knowledge. But sitting outside together, everyone shared a common passion for learning more in order to promote peace. While some may disagree on the methods, or the nuances around how to best address racial disparity, violence, oppression, and discrimination, including phenomena that affect immigrants, all present had a recognition and understanding of how important efforts toward peace truly are. That shared understanding was very unifying throughout the day. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
by Ann Rader – It was so important for there to be a white Christian voice saying- we repent, forgive us Lord, we reject the ways of the “white Christian” militarized economic system that has wreaked havoc upon your sacred people. Which has offended you. You – the Great Spirit – Jesus- God (Allah)–the Holy Spirit– who has been so painfully misrepresented, misunderstood and missed over the centuries.
Seeing Josiah and Frankie plant the tree… These are very healing moments…
Ann Rader, co-Founder of Freedom Farm with her husband, Edgar Hayes, is also a member of Agape’s Mission Council
By Nicole and Rick Braithewait Hunt and John Joubert – “[The challenge is] how do we come back to being one people again. We have the same spirit within us all. We’ve forgotten that.” Nicole Brathwaite-Hunt
“The native part of me tells me that we’re a culture that is totally ignored and people don’t believe we exist anymore. The African side of me, basically tells me we’re a culture that hasn’t treated as humans.” Rick Hunt
John Gentlehawk Joubert said of his friend Rick: “You are trapped. As a Native American, you were not worthy enough to co-exist and the rest of the world wanted to wipe you out. In the black culture, people wanted to own you. You were a commodity so they wouldn’t have to do work. That is not ‘civilized’.”
by Brenna Cussen – I was beyond impressed that Agape was willing to dive into such a difficult and necessary issue. The diversity of the speakers, musicians, and prayer leaders were a testament not only to the relevance of the topic, but also to Agape’s reputation and dedication to building relationships. How important it was to begin and end the day with ceremony and reflections from Worcester’s Native community, recognizing that the event took place on occupied land.